“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” – Psalms 73:26.
It is not news, and yet at the same time we hear each day in the news, that we live in a hurting world.
It was just about a year ago that tragedy struck the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston when nine people were killed, including a pastor at prayer meeting. This week tragedy struck again as 49 people were killed and 53 people wounded in Orlando. Since hearing the news, my heart has been broken. I cannot begin to understand the feelings of parents, grandparents, siblings, nieces and nephews, friends, colleagues, neighbors and community members. All of us lost something this week, for some the losses are unimaginable. My prayers go out for everybody that was impacted by this senseless act.
My reflection on this event is first, sadness. I am saddened to hear about so many people losing their lives. Secondly, I feel frustration. It is frustrating that someone would be so selfish to take other’s lives. And third, I feel a deep hurt. I am hurting because so many people lost their lives. Every person is made in the image of God. Every person is loved by God. Loved so much that He sent His son to die on the cross for each of us. The Bible clearly reveals how precious every single one of us is to God
And fourth, we need prayer for our country and our world. After this tragic event, I can’t help but be reminded of the need for strategic prayer. God is a God who can and must be communicated with. It was Mother Teresa who said, “if we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” This tragic event reminds me of the need to pray for people because we don’t know if they are about to do something unwise, or if they are about to suffer the harsh reality of senseless tragedies like the Orlando shootings.
Jesus told us the truth when He said in John 16:33, “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” He didn’t say it could be a possibility – He said trials and sorrows are going to happen.
But why? If you ask me point-blank, “why did God allow the gunman to kill so many innocent people in Orlando,” my answer isn’t much of an answer, but it is the best I can do: I do not know. As a pastor, I wish I had the answer. But I cannot stand in the shoes of God and give a complete answer to that question. I don’t have God’s mind. I don’t see with God’s eyes. First Corinthians 13:12 says, “Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.”
My prayer is that God will use this tragic event to help our community and country draw nearer to Him and not drift further away from Him.